More RIAs See Tech as Client Experience Enhancer

More than half of independent registered investment advisers (RIA) view technology as a front-office function and a key component for delivering quality client experiences.

A new analysis from Schwab Advisor Services shows 53% of RIAs see technology as an important deliverable for retirement plan and individual wealth management clients. While technology innovations have long been used to improve RIA operational efficiency and service delivery capabilities, Schwab says the delivery of technology tools and services for direct use by clients is increasing across the RIA industry.

“Use of technology to support the client relationship can help firms build scale and grow their businesses while maintaining a high-touch, premiere client experience,” explains Neesha Hathi, a senior vice president at Schwab Advisor Services. “For advisers, the increase in personal use of mobile devices and web-based applications translates into technology playing an integral role in facilitating client relationships.”

As mobile technology gains prominence, more than two-thirds of those surveyed for Schwab’s analysis said they either already feel mobile technology’s impact at their firm or that they expect to within the next three years. Among the benefits of mobile tech that are of greatest value to RIAs are looking up account information (35%), receiving alerts and electronic approvals (28%), and accessing reports and documents (19%).

Other findings from the “2014 SOLUTIONS” survey show that RIA firms report spending significant amounts of time on data management and system integrations—and on creating client dashboards, building digital reports for clients, and utilizing technology in presentations and billing processes.

Half of RIAs polled say they do not use any social media within their firm. Of those who do, LinkedIn is the most widely used, with 26% of respondents using the platform exclusively. More than seven in 10 advisers who are active on social media say they use the technology in their practice at least once a week.

For their part, clients of RIAs are strongly embracing a technology-enhanced service experience if it is made available to them. According to the survey, most RIA firms and their clients are on a similar technology adoption curve, with 60% of RIAs reporting that clients have been adapting positively to new service approaches and technology solutions.

The more than 1,000 responses included in the “2014 SOLUTIONS” survey were collected from RIAs headquartered in 12 U.S. cities during the summer of 2014. More information is available at